Metalearning and the role of the educator in cases of learning disorders
Learning disorders have always posed a challenge for educators. The aspiration of a teacher is to empower each and every student and to stimulate their motivation to learn, but also to protect the individual student’s opportunity to learn within the classroom environment. The educator is, above all, a student themselves, dedicated to finding meaning in learning. However, are educators sufficiently trained to manage the different learning disorders and neurological identities present within their classrooms? Of course, this does not only include dyslexia or the infamous Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). By neurological identities, we mean the entire array of special features that make the students in a classroom, the players in a team, or the members of a family so gloriously different. In a way, all these different types of people resemble a bouquet of flowers. Each flower learns how to complement its peers and to collaborate effectively to produce natural beauty.
However, educators who realize the importance of their role cannot waste valuable time on diagnosis. Each educator, with his/her own unique neurological identity, is emotionally involved in the learning process, and is constantly evolving. And, if they have not received the relevant training in managing student learning disorders, they face the danger of being led by the dynamics in their classroom, causing them to lose focus and fail to achieve the goal of personal development for both themselves and their students. Educators must realize that they need to focus on cultivating the necessary conditions to help students gain awareness of their own neurological identity. Their responsibility is to encourage students to find their own selves, with the occasional support of expert diagnosis. Through experience, teachers can help students release potential that will help them embrace learning, knowledge, new experiences, change and evolution. This is a long-term process and requires patience and perseverance on the part of both educator and student. That is the definition of metalearning.
What factors affect the functionality of certain neurological types?
The hectic pace and competitive nature of our 21st century lifestyle place excessive expectations on the majority of students and employees, especially if these expectations are not balanced, or are incompatible with their neurological identities. Stress is the main cause of dysfunctional and antisocial behaviours in children and adults with learning disorders. Stress comes hand in hand with the fear of rejection and the lack of acceptance from people who do not comprehend that their expectations are simply unattainable. It’s a question of simple biology. In the same way that we cannot change the colour of a person’s skin, we cannot expect people with high functioning autism to understand nonverbal communication.
by Yannis Stergis, President & CEO, hyphen SA